On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second. The CME did not travel directly toward Earth, but did connect with Earth’s magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, causing aurora to appear on the night of Monday, September 3.
Picuted here is a lighten blended version of the 304 and 171 angstrom wavelengths. Cropped
NASA image use policy.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.
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Tor.com ran a small article called What’s the First Line of the First Book You’re Reading in 2023?. It reminded me of all of the lessons about creative writing that emphasize how the first sentence or the first paragraph is a story is so important in hooking the reader.
I like first lines so I decided to have a look at a few of my own.
Here’s the first sentence from my most recently published short story:
Sheriff Bobby Bill Thornton ran the fingers of both hands through his abundance of silvery locks across his head, unmindful of the blood covering them.
Here’s the first sentence from a short story that’s been accepted for publication but hasn’t yet been published.
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I suppose the number seems mysterious, but it’s born out of curiosity. I’ve written and submitted eleven short stories between December 2021 and today (February 11, 2022). One was already rejected, so I didn’t count it, but ten stories are still “in play,” still submitted and being considered.
Of those ten stories, the word count total is 69,415 words. A small novel basically.
So I thought I’d share a little bit of each of them. There’s no guarantee that any of them will be accepted for publication. But it’ll still be fun to share the first paragraph of each one in no particular order.
The Mahli war cruiser attacked the starship Raeb from below the system’s ecliptic plane, accelerating from behind a ring of asteroids where it was hiding to mask its waste heat. It took less than three seconds for their weapon to form a transitory miniature singularity. It distorted and then shredded major portions of the Raeb’s hull, exposing over half of the ship’s interior to space. But that would be the only shot they’d get.
Found at typinglounge.com – No image credit given
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I haven’t been writing much lately. Okay, I haven’t been writing anything new at all. I do technical writing for my day job of course, and I just finished yet another freelance job updating/refreshing test questions at the back a technology book (it’s actually more interesting than it sounds, pays pretty well, and has a quick turnaround).
What I have been doing is submitting previously rejected short stories to different publishers, actually trying for more “mainstream” periodicals.
This is where the rejection part comes in. One story is basically urban fantasy/crime story (I’ve just submitted it yet again, so we’ll see) and the other is a sort of “pirates in space” tale, complete with oppressive colonizers, revenge, and swashbuckling. I even included a fictionalized version of a famous author.
The vast, vast majority of time when you get those rejection emails, they’re pretty standard fare and offer no feedback good, bad, or indifferent. This last one did:
Screenshot from the Superversive Scribe blog
Every Sunday, author and editor Richard Paolinelli spotlights a different writer in a one-on-one interview. Last week he even turned the focus on himself.
This coming Sunday, November 22nd, the interview will be with me.
Screenshot from my computer.
Yes, it’s a bland image to be sure, but writing fiction isn’t all fun, games, and glory. Once a story is accepted, or in this case two, it doesn’t mean what you’ve submitted to the publisher is perfect. It just means that it’s a good story (well, I hope that’s what it means).
It also means that someone is going to go over your story with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, pointing out issues, everything from word usage to punctuation.
I participated in an online contest by writing an essay about how writers and other creative people can “build our brand”. Here’s the result.
Steven Lester Carr:
The panel of judges for the Building Your Brand project has selected the top three entries. First place and $50.00 goes to Elaine Marie Carnegie. Second place and $25.00 to Peter Astle. Third place and $25.00 to James Pyles.
Part of the money the winning entries received was part of a generous contribution of $25.00 that fellow Sweetycat Press member, Dawn Debraal, made toward this effort. Thank you, Dawn!
Thank you to all of you who submitted entries. Unfortunately there could only be a top three.
Found at superversivesf.com. No image credit given
So the usual pattern for me and short stories is that I see a submissions call from (usually) an indie publisher, I read the particulars, look at the submissions deadline, and say to myself something like, “I can do that.”
Then as the deadline approaches, and I’ve met all (or most) of the other submissions deadlines I’ve set for myself, I try to come up with an idea for a story that fits the bill.
I prepare a Shunn formatted document, since that’s, more or less, the industry standard, for use as my manuscript pages. Then I copy the submissions requirements into a plain text document, and using other plain text files, create a plot sheet, a character sheet, and any other resources (in a long or complicated story, usually a bunch of URLs leading to research pages) necessary to create the background for my tale. And then I start writing.
I’ll skip over a lot of angst, and let’s say I have finished the first draft, edited it within an inch of its proverbial life, and then finally submitted it, using the method required by the publisher.
And then I wait.
Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Image credit not given
Gerald jumped at everything, even when nothing was there. In spite of the warm, spring afternoon, he wore thermal underwear beneath his faded, torn denim pants, and two sweaters under the ancient, tattered, and stained Navy pea coat.
Long, tangled hair, white as the snow still on the mountains around Tahoe, shot out from his stocking cap, random stalks of alabaster wheat waving in the breeze.
Sad, brown eyes stared down at his worn trainers, the left one completely bereft of shoelaces, as they shuffled one after the other across the sidewalk’s concrete and cracks.
The voices muttered in his ears, and in the dankness of his squirming gray matter, a restless beast always striving to escape the prison of his skull.
Logo for the National Novel Writing Month
Once again, in November, I will not be participating in National Novel Writing Month, more popularly known as NaNoWriMo.
First of all, I can barely stay awake, even though it’s not even six in the evening (as I write this). That means, I can’t think clearly. I’ve been trying for several days to finish a short story, but every evening when I get home from my slave job, I’m exhausted. My hours changed, so I have to get up at 5 in the morning. That used to be pretty normal for me, but as I get older, I have discovered that getting and then staying asleep at night is becoming more difficult.
Also, writing a novel in a month is either a challenge at best or torture and tyranny at worst. I did manage to write a 10,000 novelette in a week for a similar online challenge. It wasn’t chosen for publication, so now what do I do with it (actually, I have plans, but I still need time and a clear head to enable them)?